On the 16th of May two men who’d been convicted of murder were ruled to have good cause to maintain their innocence. One of them, Sam Hallam, was found guilty in 2004 but after the evidence his conviction was based on was cast into doubt he was released from the Court of Appeal. The other, Carlos DeLuna, was found guilty in 1983 but a report from the Columbia Law School has suggested that he was innocent. DeLuna isn’t going to be released, though. He was executed in 1989.
(Sorry, Carl! Anything that we can do to make it up to you? No? Tell you what, if there’s a bar in heaven the first round is on your judges.)
It’s sinister to think of all the people who might have faced the needle, noose or chair had Britain not abolished capital punishment. The Birmingham Six would almost certainly have been dispatched. The Bridgewater Four would probably have faced death. Barry George may have been killed. Judith Ward might have died. Megrahi – whose innocence hasn’t been established, no, but whose guilt hasn’t either – would have been snuffed out before you could say “miscarriage of justice”. I’m not sure the case against capital punishment should hinge on the deaths of the wrongfully convicted because the implication is that it’s okay to off the guilty. Yet, for me, it’s still the most horrific aspect. (And not just because any of us could be victims.) It’s hard to imagine anything more lonely than to die as the target of your entire community’s spurious opprobrium.